This is certainly more musically traditional punk than so many of the punk albums that came out in 1977 and especially in 1978. I guess that’s why some people consider it pub rock; it’s more musically competent than punk and, were it not for the lyrics and the vocals, it could be mistaken for pub rock at its very loudest (or at least “rock” music).
But those lyrics: this is one of the most political punk albums from the second wave of first wave British punk. Of all the British punk bands to release debuts in 1977 or 1978, so many of them are more nihilist or more social comment, than this record. But this record is political. And, moreover, it’s (relatively) literate. These are lyrics that you can actually respect, rather than just think “oh yeah, when I was 19 I would have agreed with the sentiment.” Tom Robinson was 28 when this came out and you can hear it in his words; these are the lyrics of someone who has lived a little bit more than the members of The Clash or The Pistols or whomever.
Despite how conservative it is musically, this is a near-classic punk record because of those lyrics. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the younger punks sneered at this band, but it’s Tom Robinson whose vision has dated better.
All tracks composed by Tom Robinson; except where indicated
- “Up Against the Wall” – (Robinson, Roy Butterfield aka Anton Mauve) 3:35
- “Grey Cortina” – 2:10
- “Too Good to Be True” – (Robinson, Dolphin Taylor) 3:35
- “Ain’t Gonna Take It” (Robinson, Danny Kustow) – 2:53
- “Long Hot Summer” – 4:44
- “The Winter of ’79” (Robinson, Mark Ambler, Taylor, Kustow) – 4:31
- “Man You Never Saw” (Robinson, Ambler) – 2:44
- “Better Decide Which Side You’re On” – 2:50
- “You Gotta Survive” (Robinson, Ambler) – 3:15
- “Power in the Darkness” (Robinson, Ambler) – 4:55
- Tom Robinson – vocals, bass
- Danny Kustow – guitar
- Mark Ambler – organ, piano
- Dolphin Taylor – drums